The Oracle shopping centre in Reading has blocked the extension of American fast food brand Chick-fil-A’s lease on its first UK outlet following protests by LGBT+ groups.
The chicken chain, which opened in Reading last week, had previously been subject to a boycott in the US following comments made by CEO Dan Cathy in 2012.
Asked about same-sex marriage Cathy had told a radio programme: “We’re inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.”
A spokesperson for the shopping centre said: “At the Oracle, we offer an inclusive space where everyone is welcome. We always look to introduce new concepts for our customers, however, we have decided on this occasion that the right thing to do is to only allow Chick-Fil-A to trade with us for the initial six month pilot period, and not to extend the lease any further.”
In response to the opening Reading Pride UK has issued the following statement: “The chain’s ethos and moral stance goes completely against our values, and that of the UK as we are a progressive country that has legislated same sex marriage for some years and continues to strive towards equality.
“Whilst the Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy’s comments were from 2012 [Cathy was quoted as saying that he believes in the “biblical definition of the family unit”]. They hired a PR company and he has not been quoted since. There is no record we can find to suggest his views have changed.”
A Chick-fil-A spokesperson had said: “We hope our guests in the UK will see that Chick-fil-A is a restaurant company focused on serving great food and hospitality, and does not have a social or political agenda.
“We are represented by more than 145,000 people from different backgrounds and beliefs, and we welcome everyone.”
Chick-fil-A is one of the largest fast food chain in the US, with more than 2,400 outlets across 47 states, and has held several pop-ups in the UK ahead of its move into the market. It reported revenue in excess of $10b (£7.8b), in 2018.